How can I teach my dog to obey hand signals?

Asked by Christina

1 Answer

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It is reasonably easy to teach a dog to obey simple hand signals rather than spoken commands and it is possible to take it to the highest levels of training. If you watch the dogs doing heelwork to music, many of their moves are done with hand movements alone. Also, deaf dogs have no choice but to learn this way!

Start by teaching your dog commands using both your voice and hand movements. You can have a treat in your hand and the movement should track how you want your dog to move. For example, for a ‘sit’, hold the treat level with your dog’s head and move it up and back, so they have to sit down to follow it. For a ‘lie’ move your hand and the treat towards the floor and, if you fancy trying a bit of doggy dancing, teach them to spin by holding the treat above their head and moving it in circles.

As you progress, you can drop the voice commands and gradually make the hand movements further away from your dog, so you aren’t bending over every time you ask for a ‘lie’. They will then receive the treat after they have completed the movement, rather than following it closely during. Also, one tip most trainers will give is to get to the stage where you aren’t treating every time your dog performs correctly. Gradually extend the time between treats and make them work for it!

The beauty of this type of training is that you can use what ever signals you like and it helps focus your dogs attention on you because they have to watch to see what you are going to ask next, which really helps deepen the bond between you. | 04.01.16 @ 14:06
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$commenter.renderDisplayableName() — {comment} | 08.17.17 @ 13:43
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